I don’t know where the time has gone. It seems like just a week ago I was pregnant and waiting anxiously for B to arrive. And now he’s here and it’s almost like he’s always been here and suddenly I’m due back at work today!
I have given myself a small reprieve in that I have accrued all my annual leave for the year and I am going back almost mid year. So I have taken just over a week of annual leave so I can postpone my return to work until 1 June. It’s a bank holiday here in England which means we have the Monday off, so I do get a “free” day to add to all that.
And yet… it seems so not enough.
I know in the US and elsewhere that maternity leave tends to be short. I believe it’s sometimes even as short as six weeks. I’ll have had 19 weeks, but it seems so little time. I can’t believe I initially said I’d go back after two months!
It’s a bit of a drag workwise as my boss (who I managed to chase down after several weeks) said that he doesn’t want me to go back to my previous client. But he doesn’t want me to tell them either. So it’s a bit awkward. He also said when I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago to call him back when I have two weeks to go. I do, and I have, but of course he’s on holiday.
So instead of going to my client which is about half an hour away, he wants me to go to our base office which is about an hour away and three trains. I’m really not thrilled about this prospect as I know I’ll just be sitting in the office with nothing to do until he appears, and apparently he’ll be traveling that week anyway, but I suppose at least that means I’ll just leave early if I have nothing to do.
That’s my boss! He’s a great guy and I totally (platonically) love him, but he’s one of those people who has very little time and then if he ever gets round to giving you his time, you just have to drop everything and give it.
Anyway. Aside from the obvious pain I have of being separated from B, I am concerned about the whole breastfeeding thing. If you’d have said this during pregnancy I would have had a very different view. But for us, breastfeeding just works and it’s the one thing I seem able to do without much effort. After the infertility and difficulties getting pregnant, and the emergency caesarean birth, I feel it’s something I can do for him that can bring him benefit, and I want to carry on doing it as long as possible.
I’m not anti formula per se, but I don’t want to give him formula if I don’t have to. I have a good supply of milk and I’ve been pumping around once a day for the last month and a bit, and it seems to be fine. (We switched from a rather unpleasant Tommee Tippee to the Medela Swing Maxi I bought at the Baby Show – it’s way more expensive but a much better pumping experience.)
Unfortunately, B is rather resistant to the bottle. I have friends who have the opposite problem. But of course my child would have to be different! We’ve tried a bunch of different bottles… Tommee Tippee, MAM, Nuk, even the expensive Medela Calma which is meant to mimic the nipple (whose nipple, I have no idea… a bionic person’s!). Eventually we think we have found that he will take… the Lansinoh mOmma. Although apparently only from me. T has used the MAM bottles a while and he will take about 1oz extremely begrudgingly. Either way it’s about 1oz at a time. (Update: Yesterday he took 2.5oz and looked at me expectantly as if to say, “Where’s the rest?!” So I had to breastfeed him! Maybe we’ve turned a corner?)
So last week I left B for the first ever time! Well I’ve left him before for a short time like to walk to the local shop or walk Dog, but not for an extended period. I am due back to work at the beginning of June so I am in dire need of a back to work wardrobe. My pre pregnancy stuff doesn’t exactly lend itself to breastfeeding or expressing, as I tend to wear higher cut dresses (and I sure as s*** am not going to sit around pumping in my underwear!
My mother very kindly gave me some money when we were on holiday, which was to put towards some new clothes and a haircut. It was so nice of her! Think she realised I was feeling a bit unconfident when I had a mini meltdown about what to wear to the family do we went to.
I think when I first gave birth I sort of lost most of the pregnancy weight.
And then… the brunger!!
Omg. The breastfeeding hunger is something else. Turns out I’m not one of those people who wastes away to nothing and I just want to eat all the time! Luckily breastfeeding also burns calories! But it’s not really my usual amount of eating. I’m a bit of a pig lately. Also I confess that during pregnancy I really didn’t worry about diet, although I also felt fuller quicker because B took up so much room.
So the upshot of it is that I’m about a size larger than my pre pregnancy dress size. And that is two sizes larger than my fighting weight before IVF round 1 took its toll on me! And not to mention the boobs! Seriously they’re out of control. My usual size is 32C. I’ve been wearing 36DD and it’s not really the right size but I couldn’t really bear for my breasts to be touched during pregnancy and I’ve been wearing stretchy nursing bras anyway because they’re more comfortable for the Amazing Humungaboobs™ and their waxing and waning.
Anyway I measured myself according to Boob or Bust (a nursing / bra measuring website) and it turns out I’m currently a 32H! OMG, WTF, etc! So obviously that necessitates different clothes as well, because a lot of nursing clothes are a bit low cut and quite frankly nobody wants my Humungaboobs™ in their face (least of all at work!).
So I spent a day clothes shopping at the big shopping centre. T was texting me updates with pictures of B looking remarkably happy without his mother! I kind of didn’t know what to do with myself, but it was worth doing as it’s pretty difficult to try on clothes whilst babywearing (which we seem to do most of the time) and I’m the kind of person who likes to try on clothes on my own without an opinion! (Probably accounts for my dreadful dress sense!)
I’d already got some stuff from Mamalicious which I wore a lot during pregnancy, so that covered off nursing dresses. Also a couple of bits in the sale from Dorothy Perkins and New Look. (These are all fairly low end high street shops.) I’m really not a person who buys very expensive clothes often. I wish I could be one of those classic dressers but I’m not! Although I do seem to have a uniform of mainly black… On maternity leave I’ve mainly lived in jeans and JoJo Maman Bébé Breton feeding tops. Clearly not suitable for work!
Anyway, here are some headless pics to demonstrate some of my purchases. I was quite proud of myself!
Feeding vest top from B Shirt. Light jacket from New Look. Skinny jeans from Marks & Spencer. Flat shoes from New Look.
Feeding vest top from B Shirt. Jacket from New Look. Skinny jeans from Marks & Spencer. Court shoes from New Look.
I was pretty pleased with my haul. (Most of the pics were taken in New Look changing room so didn’t show all my stuff from H&M!) I also got some shirts which are good for a casual look. I’ve been living in stripy Breton feeding tops from JoJo Maman Bébé which are great for casual but not for work, so it’s good to have something a bit smarter.
I mentioned I got a ridiculously expensive breast pump bag from Sarah Wells which is an American brand. I looked everywhere for some kind of multipurpose bag but it doesn’t so much exist round here because people tend to take maternity leave until the baby has been weaned. Also the UK has a really low rate of breastfeeding so mums who go back to work tend to move to formula if they haven’t weaned. Unfortunately I was hit with a gigantic customs charge which added insult to injury! However I’m fairly happy with the bag. Just as well! I have used it for my shopping trip and it’s massive, but I haven’t tricked it out for pumping yet.
Anyway, I took some pics for interest…
Rucksack straps or handbag straps can be tucked away / pulled out as desired. The handbag straps are long enough to put it over your shoulder and carry it that way. Which is a good deal as it’s a big bag!
Pump compartment which is insulated and water resistant so you can store your pump and your pumped milk with ice blocks. There is a photo pocket where you can add a pic of your baby to aid expressing (oxytocin!). My Medela Swing Maxi double pump fits in there easily.
Top view. You can easily fit a laptop in the laptop pocket. Also room for shoes, lunch, and loads of other paraphernalia.
So I’m pleased with it all! I feel like I’m sort of physically prepared for work. Just not mentally.
The other day I went to a breastfeeding and working coffee morning run by La Leche League. It was themed around going back to work so obviously I was interested. Anyway I’m completely mortified because when I introduced myself and started talking about going back to work, I cried! Wow. I’m so not a crier. It turns out that B has turned me into waterworks central! Everyone was really nice about it and I wasn’t the only one to get emotional but still! Shocking!
It was great to meet other members of “the breastapo”. I had had no intention of joining LLL but actually have found the fb group really helpful with tips on breastfeeding, and the book (tongue in cheek named The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) is really helpful and full of tips including on going back to work.
I can’t believe my time with B is coming to an end. It’s not to say I won’t see him, but it will be different. He’s going to stay at home with T (his dad) for a while and then go to nursery a few weeks later. So we will be working parents. It just feels so soon to go back. I’m sure I will cry my eyes out when it happens.
I have built up quite a stash of frozen milk. Hopefully we will not have a defrosting disaster like we did a while ago! It’s more for backup as my intention is to pump for him the day before. So if I pump at work I’ll just give the nursery that milk the following day. The freezer stash is more just in case.
Other than that we have been concentrating on making these last few weeks really awesome for baby B. He is growing up so fast! He can now roll, which first happened two weeks ago when we were on holiday, but was more of a sort of accidental roll than a purposeful one. Today (18 weeks+1) he did both types of roll (front to back and back to front) in a really purposeful way.
He’s also gotten kind of sick of being in his rocker. I guess we didn’t really get the full money’s worth out of that but I’m planning to give it to my sister as they can use it as soon as my niece is born, so they’ll get longer to use it. My brother gave us a Baby Bjorn bouncer they were getting rid of, which is okay to put him in if you need a minute to go to the loo or something. Now he can roll, it’s not safe to leave him on the sofa!
So this weekend we took him swimming and picked up a present for him… a jumperoo! I think it pretty much was the best day of B’s life so far! He loved it!
If you’d have told me this was the kind of thing I’d be getting excited about, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s the most tacky piece of tat! And yet he absolutely loves it. If you can imagine a tiny little dude sitting in the middle of it, playing with the bits and making tinny music come out of it whilst giggling with glee – that’s B!
I don’t think I could love him more.
One of my favourite parts of the day is after B has woken up for his morning feed and then gone back to sleep. Sometimes I go back to sleep too, but more often than not I’m just lying here surrounded by my three boys sleeping (B, T and Dog). B’s in bed next to me and I just marvel at the fact that he’s here, and softly breathing, and perfect.
I get it. I get it more than you can imagine. Whenever I used to read another infertility blog, I’d mentally compare it to our journey and my own infertility (because the “fault” is mine – I’m the infertile one) and figure if ours had gone on longer or been easier or harder. And usually ours compared unfavourably, and I’d wonder if it was just too late for anything to try and fix it, and I’d get angry at anyone and everyone because we had to deal with this and others did not.
I used to get so angry at people who had babies without trying. At people who’d run the gamut of insensitive comments. (“At least you know you can get pregnant” after a miscarriage that was the culmination of 10+ years of infertility and IVF… “Why don’t you just adopt?” to two adoptees who just wanted to have someone biologically related to them in their lives…) Even at my own sibling who easily had two children – one born during the holiday we went on to get over our loss.
I was angry and jealous and honestly not the nicest person to be around for a while, so after our loss the previous year I took a step back from socialising and focused more on work, and self care. And I blogged a lot. And got amazing support from this community of bloggers. And made some real life friends.
When we finally got pregnant last year that was the culmination of a great deal of treatment including multiple operations, IVF cycles, immune therapy and at least four different hospitals and countless doctors.
It was not an easy ride.
But we are lucky because out of all that came baby B. And the pain of infertility recedes, but it doesn’t mean I’m not conscious of it. As I posted the other day, I’m grateful every single day that I have the chance to be a mother. I don’t take it for granted.
After all that I am full of joy for this chance. And I’m grateful. And I feel empathy for anyone else still going down this path because I know what it feels like. It’s been over 10 years and up to 15/16 years depending on how you count it. (Not-not trying or actually trying.)
What I didn’t do during those days of anger was wander up to people who had kids and express my anger to them. I might have felt it privately but I knew deep down that my anger at them was irrational and misplaced. Someone else being fertile is not the cause of my own infertility.
Likewise I didn’t do the equivalent of that in the blogging world. Your own blog is for venting, and you can do what you want on it. But I didn’t seek out blogs where people had kids and make snarky comments. Because it is literally not their fault. When infertility bloggers got pregnant and had kids, it gave me hope. If it became too triggering, I unfollowed. But most of the time I carried on following them because I was happy for them that it worked out, and I wanted to share in that happiness.
Ultimately isn’t that what we want to happen in the infertility blogging world? We want those people who want children to be able to have children, either through medical intervention (as we had) or adoption. Or we want them to be able to come to terms with not having children.
It doesn’t really make sense to hope that all infertility bloggers continue to live in misery and longing and never manage to have a child or come to terms with a child free life… It would be perverse to hope for that, because we’d be hoping for that for ourselves, too.
So when someone from the infertility community comes on my blog specifically to bitch about parents, in the context of everything we went through to become parents, and how recently it happened for us, and knowing our background of being adopted and the loss that entails, I can have empathy for that person but I can also be kind of p*ssed off.
I have never felt “smug” about being a mother. I literally never thought this day would come, and I went through a lot to get here, and I’m thankful every day. Being grateful is not the same as being smug. And I don’t post stuff about parenting to upset infertile people, or for any other agenda. I talk about my life because my blog is about my life and my experiences.
I understand that to some in the trenches of infertility that talking about parenting following infertility may be triggering. I know that some infertility bloggers have stopped blogging after having children through birth or adoption. I know others who have started new blogs.
For me, my blog was named Zero to Zygote for a reason. I hoped one day where there was no child there would be a child. In my first post I talked about my dream of being able to tell my child the story of how he came to be. It was always meant to be a story of hope, and that journey included venting of infertility anger, processing of adoption loss, working through the grief of pregnancy loss, as well as everyday experiences and thoughts.
So I’m asking you, infertility bloggers, if all this triggers you, please do not take out your infertility anger on me on my blog. The space for that is your own blog, or a support group. You’ll never be able to chase down every person that has a child to comment on their blog or tell you how angry you are that they have one and you don’t. And it will just make you feel worse. Just unfollow me and save yourself the trouble of thinking negative thoughts.
And your anger is misplaced. I wouldn’t wish our experiences on anyone. It was not easy and it was not enjoyable and it almost broke me. I hope you resolve yours more quickly than we did (whether by having a child or being happy not to have one; I understand that having a baby is not the be all and end all, even if it sometimes feels like that). I hope that everything works out.
Of all the anger I had about infertility, the ones I hoped for the most and where my anger dissipated were for the others in similar positions to ours. But maybe you are still deep in the trenches right now and you can only feel your own grief and loss, and I get that. You’re entitled to feel that way. Life is unfair sometimes. Take it from someone who’s been there for many years: unfollow your triggers. And if that includes me, unfollow me.
I wish you all the best.
Before I embarked on this journey, I worked in an office. I’m a not-very-bigwig in the corporate world. And for years I defined myself by it, so I find myself applying “work” lingo to this new and amazing world of parenthood…
Hence: the QBR. At work, the Quarterly Business Review is a chance to look back on the last three months and assess what was good about it and what you’re going to work on next quarter.
I don’t seem to have any time for blogging nowadays. I never wanted to be one of those infertility bloggers who drops off the face of the planet when they have a baby, but there you have it. I’m still here, but right now I’m soaking up all I can of the experience.
I have to go back to work early for the UK – usually people take a year, but I’m on unpaid leave (due to starting my new job pregnant so ineligible for paid leave) and this (just over four months) is all we can afford. Hence my sparse postings lately. I’m sure when I’m back at work and have a commute again, I’ll be able to write a bit more.
Anyway, here goes!
Performance: B’s development
Following the developments a baby makes is like trying to catch a wave upon the sand, as the nuns in The Sound of Music would have it. B changes every single day. It’s amazing to watch.
It’s totally out-of-this-world amazing and totally run-of-the-mill normal at the same time. I absolutely know I’m not the first and last person to have a baby, but I can also now see why mothers get a bit obsessed.
Things B can do (not an exhaustive list, because I am not on top of things like that):
- Smile. He smiles all the time now. It’s like a magic mood lifter. How can you be anything but happy when a little fat baby is grinning a toothless grin at you?
- Halfhearted roll. He started rolling out of bed – his side sleeper cot, onto our bed. I bought a Sleepyhead bed nest which now contains him. He can roll halfway from his back to his side, but doesn’t seem motivated to roll fully (and we aren’t motivated to encourage him!).
- Hold his head up. We do tummy time when we remember (#badparents) and he easily holds his head up and tries to crawl a bit, but is a long way off, thankfully!
- Dribble. My boy is a world champion dribbler. Apparently this means maybe he’s started teething. He doesn’t seem particularly upset.
- Babble. In the last week or so, he’s just started to enjoy the sound of his own voice. T is convinced he can say “Hello” and it does sound like that sometimes, but I think it’s unlikely!
- Enjoy playing. For a while, I wondered if he was really enjoying playing, but now he definitely does. We do Baby Sensory once a week and he can now engage a bit in activities. He laughs when he enjoys things. And he has started batting toys at his (incredibly tacky) Baby Gym, finally, rather than just lying there and expecting them magically to entertain him!
In short, he is the most awesome beautiful baby in the world and I am fully in love.
Review: Parenthood after infertility/loss
During this whole thing, I’ve always been conscious of being infertile and of needing so much intervention to have B. On the one hand, I’ve passed into motherhood / parenthood and in many ways it feels like something I always was supposed to do. By which I mean, it feels natural. But on the other hand, I’m really conscious that pregnancy and birth did not come naturally to me. And I don’t want people to think it came easily or that I’m not grateful.
I thank my lucky stars every single day that I have B. It feels like a journey I never thought I’d get to make. It’s awesome. I also in the same breath thank my lucky stars for T, his father and my partner. And Dog, the best dog ever. It is nice to have a little family of my own. Of course I’ve always been a part of my family that I can remember, but it’s weird to have started my own. And even weirder to have someone who looks like me. People comment that all the time. I can totally enjoy that because having been adopted, I never had that.
I feel a need to explain to people that it wasn’t easy to have B, because I feel like on the one hand it’s hard to imagine him not being there, but on the other it’s weird not to reflect on the many more years I had of being childless with no idea if I’d ever not be. And I want people who are trying to conceive to know that we went there too.
Does the pain ever go away? I know some people say it doesn’t, and I respect that. For me, it’s immensely healing to have B. That’s not on him. He’s not responsible for my happiness. I just feel that the pain of infertility and loss has become more distant in my everyday thoughts. It’s not “worth it” as such but it doesn’t really intrude because I’m too busy enjoying him. It’s amazing how babies change and grow and learn stuff every single day. I’m in awe. And I’m so happy to get the chance to experience this. It feels like a dream come true.
I guess one thing this journey gave me was an intolerance of people who complain a lot about having a baby. I just can’t. I know so many who would give their right arm to be pregnant so it annoys me when people whinge on about pregnancy and motherhood. I know they have a right to, but I just don’t like to hear it. During pregnancy I almost relished the back pain and discomfort because I knew it meant he was coming. And now, I have almost infinite patience when he wakes me up during the night or cries, because he’s here and healthy and he needs me and I wanted this. Of course I get tired, but I look at his little face and think, You are so wanted and loved.
Review: Motherhood after adoption
Although I feel like I started this blog to talk about infertility, it became clear that I had many thoughts on adoption, and having been adopted as a baby. I probably have a whole post on this, but for the purposes of this QBR I can say it’s been on my mind a lot.
It’s literally amazing to me to see B’s face every day and how much he looks like me. I never realised how much I missed having kin before I met him. I have my (adoptive) family and I think we are a pretty close family. And they’ve embraced B as one of their own, because he is. But for me it’s just mind blowing to meet my actual flesh and blood. Finally.
If you’ve followed my blog a while you’ll know T is also adopted. So B has two parents who don’t have bio family in their lives. He is it. It’s kind of huge but it’s kind of normal as well. It’s a nice kind of normal. I like that he won’t grow up wondering who he looks like or feeling weird for being a different race from everyone else.
We purposely moved here to a diverse community so he won’t stick out. It’s awesome to see how there are lots of interracial couples here, and lots of mixed race children. I feel a sense of parental responsibility that I can do that – make a conscious choice for him. I was speaking with my cousin who is in an interracial relationship with mixed race children, who felt the same about making sure they fitted in. Racial mirrors are important.
Crunchy mom score: 10
I seem to have turned into a hippy. My friend the Earth Mother (who sometimes reads this blog *waves*) is my role model here!
Breastfeeding is this huge thing I never thought I’d get into, but a quarter in (almost a third now I’ve finally gotten round to finishing this) and it seems to be my superpower. I know this is no credit to me and some people just seem to find it easier. It’s nuts. I’m so glad it has gone well. I had the difficulty getting and staying pregnant, the messed up birth, so I deserve something, right?! Actually was totally happy just to have a healthy baby, but I’ll take it.
Babywearing is another one. It’s European Babywearing Week this week, and I’m going strong! I’m still wearing B in the wrap but have gone a bit full on down the rabbit hole of babywearing madness. Again something for a longer post but suffice to say I’m a convert to wrapping and I have another two in the post! I’m not really sure why I bothered with the pram as B loves babywearing and I do too, so he screams blue murder if he has to go into his lovely designer pram, but he’s happy to be wrapped like a little burrito and strapped to my front, and I feel like a warrior when I do it!
I want to do both of these things as long as possible and as long as B still enjoys it. I’m hoping I can breastfeed for at least a year, although I’ll have to express when I’m back at work. B is so not into taking expressed milk – we’ve tried once a day to see if he can get used to it, but he has a definite preference for milk from source. In a way it makes me happy he loves me best (as a good source anyway!) but I’m concerned he will feel thirsty or hungry when I’m out at work. Hopefully he will adjust.
Exit strategy: Going back to work
It’s not so much an exit strategy as enforced retirement (in QBR parlance). I so don’t want to go back to work. I know I’m going to cry my eyes out. I can finally appreciate why maternity leave is usually a year. I honestly had no idea babies were this interesting (well, I mainly like mine… the others not so much!) and how much of a wrench it would be. I’m already less than a month to go and it feels like sand slipping through an hourglass at high speed.
I’m with him all the time and I don’t want to miss anything but I’ll have to. I’ll pump for him, and I know I’ll do everything possible to make sure he has the best start, but really I wish I could be with him every day, all day. I guess it’s no easier going back when they’re one, though. I hope he’ll take after me and sleep a lot!
Clothes have been a challenge. Who knew maternity and nursing wear seem to be double purpose? It’s so odd that the clothing manufacturers have decided the two go together. My mum kindly gave me some money to buy some back to work clothes and get a haircut. I think she realised how awkward I feel carrying the extra weight and with massive nursing boobs!
Pre pregnancy I was around a size 10 UK and now I’m maybe a 12, bigger than I’ve ever been (well, apart from pregnancy!). During pregnancy I embraced bodycon because it meant I was actually pregnant. Post pregnancy I’m avoiding it for the reason that it makes me look pregnant! My boobs are out of control. Pre pregnancy I was 32C and post I am 36DD or by Boob or Bust (a nursing site) measurements I’m 32H! Which is crazy talk! I’ll have a few weeks to find some decent nursing / pumping clothes. I don’t want to sit pumping in a meeting room with my top off, or worse still with a dress off, in my underwear! There’s a great fb group called Can I Breastfeed In It? Which I’ve been stalking for inspiration. Sadly most nursing stuff is casual or occasion wear rather than office wear. I’m half thinking I need to make a group for prematurely working mums!
In order to try and get organised, I ordered a Sarah Wells designer nursing bag from the US. Breast pump bags literally do not exist here in the UK. Probably because mothers don’t go back to work until the babies are weaned. Most take a year off. Unfortunately it isn’t possible for us as I’m on unpaid leave so minimum amount of wages (a small statutory allowance from the government which I’m grateful for, but barely pays rent!). Anyway I was super excited to receive it until I got hit with a customs charge of £39! Wtf. You live and learn. That bag better be amazing! I’ll have to post a more in depth review later.
I’ve always felt it’s so important not to neglect your relationship when you have a baby. And yet I’ve realised in the past few weeks that I really haven’t focused on T so much as B. I’ve also probably neglected Dog a bit as T tends to take him for walks whilst I feed B. I think we are okay. T says he doesn’t mind (especially the lack of bedroom antics!) but I am conscious of it.
We are very loving and in many ways having B has solidified that. I mean, we are inextricably linked now. But we are more tired and we sometimes get quite far through the day before we kiss, which is something I always thought of as important. That said, we are around each other all day – T is on shared parental leave – so we don’t kiss each other goodbye.
Having a baby and the resultant disturbed sleep (he goes back to sleep easily but I still have to wake up and comfort him even if he’s co sleeping) and probably hormones does make me grouchy. So I need to watch out for that. I feel like my moods are way more loving-whoops-now-I’m-crazy! than they were before. T is very good natured but I’m probably stretching it a bit! I absolutely love being an Earth mother type but I need to develop some hippy vibes!
We got back to the – ahem – babymaking (well it never worked!) right on schedule. Actually a day early after the doc said it was possible after a c section (6 weeks). So we made sure everything was still in working order! But frequency is way down. T says he doesn’t mind, but I feel bad for him considering last few months of pregnancy was also a no go!
I feel really self conscious of my post baby body – for the first time in years I feel a bit ashamed of my body. Before I was a bit more vain and perfectionist – not to say I had the best body but I felt it was within tolerances and was kind of proud I wasn’t overweight. Now I feel a bit saggy and my stretch marks are still very visible so that’s affected my confidence. It just about passes in clothes but my bikini days are over! So that affects how I feel about getting naked. I am hoping over time it’ll improve. At the weekend we stayed in a posh hotel for a family do so we had a bath – for the first time I didn’t want him to see me naked. But he did and we had a nice bath! I guess it takes time. I still feel massively proud of my body for getting B here, and I know T still loves me, I just have to start feeling attractive again.
All this makes it sound like our relationship is suffering. I don’t think it is particularly- but I do think having a baby changes it. We are still great friends and we still love each other, but it’s not just the two of us (plus Dog) any more. We are parents. It’s weird to recast ourselves. I suppose it takes time to grow into our new roles. I don’t think I had to love him more. I already did. He’s the love of my life. Having a baby is something a part of us and also outside of us. A seismic event. And we are still evolving.
Next quarter’s focus
- Back to work
- Bottle feeding (expressed milk)
- New house! (Hopefully still happening… slowly!)
- Relationship stuff (not forgetting to be us)
- Austerity MkII (because of new house!)
- Teething (suspected!)
Appendices: In pictures
If we are friends on fb, you’ll have seen the pics of B. I’m obsessed by how cute he is! Meanwhile here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to lately.
As before, comment and let me know what you’ve been up to! I haven’t had much time to read other people’s blogs but if you comment then I’ll read! Hope you are all well. X
(Not literally. Can you imagine? A massive friend pile up.)
Yesterday I braved the public transport system into town, as in The City, as in The City of London, as in The Square Mile… Yes, the business/financial district of London. As anyone who’s spent any time working in the City will tell you, navigating Bank station is a complete nightmare at most times (steps! crowds!) and even worse at rush hour, so it was quite a brave move.
A friend from my old job wanted to catch up, so I thought we could meet and I’d tack on another couple of friends as loads of people work around Bank. (It’s the heart of the business district in London. And extremely busy.) I decided I’d travel in after morning rush hour and take the sling, which worked fairly well. I got a seat on the tube and felt fairly pleased with myself, and B duly snoozed away.
I installed myself in a lunch place and people came to me. I always thought parents who did this were smug ****ers, but it turns out they were just being practical. Babies are portable, for sure. But their surrounding paraphernalia, less so. Also it turns out that the City is not set up for babies. Both the places we installed ourselves in yesterday didn’t even have bathrooms! (For the inevitable apoocalypse we went to Pizza Express and asked nicely to use the bathroom.)
First up was my best friend from my current work. She’s actually a client so doesn’t work for the same company, and she’s a PA. I find it weird that people don’t expect managers to be friends with PAs, as people have commented that it’s unusual. We just kind of clicked and she’s the only one I particularly miss from work. We aren’t alike at all – she’s a bit older and kind of broad speaking, speaks her own mind and doesn’t take things too seriously. Well, maybe we are!
We had a good catch up about work and non work over pizza and she held B and played with him. I was conscious how nice she was being – she also bought him a present before he was born – as she told me that many years ago she’d had a stillborn baby. She doesn’t have any kids now and she’s probably past the age to have kids. She said she’s resigned to not having kids. Anyway I felt it was bittersweet to see her with him as she was so nice and seemed happy about it. But I guess it must hurt in a way also.
Then randomly I realised there was a guy in the pizza place who was a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in years. So I went to check it was him and he was! We had a quick catch up (obviously we have seen each other on fb) and it turns out he lives really nearby. We worked out the last time we saw each other was at my wedding party. Yes – the one where I’m not married any more!
The third person was a friend from my previous job. (For those of you who followed my blog from the beginning, that one.) You may recall I went through some pretty bad stuff there. Dealing with operations, IVF and subsequent miscarriage with not an ounce of sympathy or understanding.
Anyway it turns out my friend (who is black) was also bullied and ended up resigning. Not without raising a grievance. (I didn’t bother. I just left.) They just couldn’t really deal with women of colour there. We realised there were at least four women who left in quick succession because of the bullying culture. Not nice to know it’s happened to more than one of us, but sort of reassuring that it wasn’t just me.
She ended up being on paid leave for months due to the stress of being bullied by them… Horrible stuff, but at least she was paid for that. As she put it, “They can pay for me to sit in the garden!” I kind of can’t believe that they still think it’s okay to discriminate against people who aren’t white men, but it’s that sort of company. Pretty prestigious but some rotten aspects. I’m so glad I left – my company now isn’t as prestigious but the people are nicer and I get paid more!
My final friend was a friend from my first job. We must have met when I was really young, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s recently taken a job in London so took the time to pop out and meet us. It was great to see her as she lives outside of London so I don’t see her very often.
We talked about how it is to be a woman who doesn’t have children. She said she’s made her peace with it, and I was really glad because I knew she’d really wanted kids with her ex. With her new guy they have very active lives and he has his kids and didn’t want any more, so she has resigned herself to not having any.
I’m always amazed at the men who are against having kids and whose partners end up not having them. It just seems such a big thing to give up for someone – but I understand that there are plenty of women who don’t want kids. Which is fair enough. I just don’t like to think of women having to pick between their relationship and kids if they do want kids.
Anyway, it was a big catch up day. And in the usual fashion, I posted a pic on fb of each person who’d come to see B. My fb is fairly locked down and I only post to a subset of my friends so it isn’t that many people who usually see my statuses.
This morning I saw that an ex friend had “liked” the photos. She was someone who was friends with my ex and for all I know, still is. I “lost” her in the split as she sided with him and defriended me. (He blocked me on fb so I have no idea.) As I discussed in a previous post, I haven’t told him about B. The general consensus seemed to be that there was no point. We split a long time ago. He was upset and told me not to post stuff that might upset him (including pictures of my dog that our mutual friends had “liked”). So I’ve tried not to upset him.
So this morning I had a moment of panic. I realised because one of the friends who I’d met with was also friends with her, this ex friend could see the post. She could see that I’d had a baby. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
Anyway I went in and changed the settings on the post so only my friends could see it (not friends of tagged). I don’t know how I feel about her knowing. I guess “liking” it meant some sort of approval… but she defriended me in the split so I feel like she kind of lost the right to be looking at pictures of my kid. And it also made me think of privacy and whether I’m happy with friends of my friends seeing pictures with them in, holding my baby. I don’t know. There’s a balance.
It is a strange sort of feeling when friends and ex friends collide…
We’ve been rubbing along just fine and we thought that Dog (formerly King of the Castle) was getting used to baby B (Prince of Screaming). Although Dog now gets less attention from me, I always try and give him special cuddle time, and T is probably spending more time with him as he is off on leave, so takes him for longer walks than if we were at work. So we thought we were doing okay in making him feel secure.
However we got home this evening to find that Dog had weed all over B’s cot… mainly in his Cosy Dream (the cheaper version of the Sleepyhead – a sleep nest) plus over his sheets and the assorted muslins that live there.
Into the wash they went! Fortunately I have tonnes of sheets for the cot, plus a waterproof mattress protector. But still I wasn’t impressed! Took Dog to show him and tell him not to go in the cot. It’s my fault really as I didn’t put the side up again. It’s a side sleeper and Dog sleeps on the bed during the day if we’re out. I always shoo him away from the cot though. The temptation must’ve been too great.
I guess they aren’t such friendly siblings after all… Agh.
Today we went for afternoon tea with B. It was arranged at our local nursery where B is signed up to go, which is also a children’s centre so does a lot of kid activities. It was within walking distance and cheap, so we thought we’d give it a go.
We had signed up to go with the grandparents – his paternal ones, as we are going to see mine on Sunday – but unfortunately they weren’t able to go as T’s dad unexpectedly landed in hospital the day before.
Fortunately they didn’t find any signs of anything although he had been taken in with a suspected stroke, and T had driven an almost 4hr round trip to see him the previous night and he’d been reassured he was in good hands. We had already paid in advance for the afternoon tea so thought we wouldn’t waste it.
Well, it was much nicer than I’d expected! Of course there were lots of children there but it wasn’t too hectic given the main event is tomorrow. Think we made a good choice to go on Saturday! They’d decorated the room really nicely with vintage crockery and so on. They had Alice and Wonderland on the projector (one of my favourite Disney films!) and a load of activities for the kids. Sadly B was still too young to take advantage of the chocolate fountain and cupcake decorating! The kids even had mini teapots of orange squash. It was all very cute.
So we had double servings of afternoon tea – luckily we were given boxes to take the excess away at the end, so we could have it for dinner! And two glasses of bubbly each which contributed favourably to the mood. B snoozed away in his buggy until he woke up near the end.
Then a guy came and started singing some classics. B woke up and T had him on his lap. They looked adorable because they were wearing matching tops! T has this jumper he wears all the time with stripes on, and we found a babygro that is in the same colours so they can be cute matchy matchy. (I am so cheesy and I make no apologies… I’m trying to find matching mum and baby outfits that we can wear, haha!)
The singer started singing “You’re just too good to be true” and I was waving B’s arms around pretending to dance with him.
And then he smiled – he’s been doing it on and off for the last week or so. We weren’t sure if it was random or not, wind or something, but it’s been getting more regular.
Then, after smiling a bit, he started laughing! His first laugh, looking at me dancing with him.
It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.
I started crying a bit… and T started to feel emotional because I had tears in my eyes, and B was just there giggling whilst I was pretending to dance with him and sing “You’re just too good to be true”, and really that’s the best Mother’s Day gift ever.
Beauty and the Beast live action is finally out in the UK and we went to see it. Hurray! It is my favourite Disney film and I’ve seen the cartoon like a million times.
We went to baby cinema which is called The Big Scream. Once a week they show a baby friendly film and you can take your baby along and not worry if he/she cries. Now, we have unlimited cards for the local cinema and I’ve taken B twice to the local showings but T was keen to try it and I thought, Why not?
OMG. So in a way it’s good because you really don’t worry about your baby screaming. They all do. Usually quiet B did too! The last two films we went to see in our normal cinema, he slept through. (Lion and Hidden Figures.) This one he decided to get a bit annoyed and cry, even though he had boobs available and was being fed! Poor B – not sure he enjoyed Beauty and the Beast that much!
Would I go back? Personally I’m not in a rush. T says he would when he’s on his own with B. I’d rather just sit in a nice dark mostly empty cinema in a normal morning screening that hardly anyone goes to. (I also prefer complete darkness but they had the lights partially on for the babies.) I find other parents kind of annoying too! I was on the end of a row at the back and people kept standing next to me with screaming babies! I figure it’s easier to cope with one baby and take him out if he starts crying.
It’s not all bad though. You definitely do relax. And it’s good because you really don’t worry about anything – if your baby cries, it doesn’t matter. You can get up and rock them. You can feed them. You can do whatever. So it’s easy that way.
My long awaited viewing of Beauty and the Beast was… entertaining, but as expected, not a patch on the original. I thought that Emma Watson was well cast – I usually don’t like her particularly but she was suited to the role of Belle… She is very pretty and has the kind of innocent look about her. And for a peasant she sure does have a nice line in dresses.
It’s an all star cast. I thought it particularly amusing how Cogsworth (the clock) even looked like Sir Ian McKellen! The weirdest thing was The Beast. He’s the guy out of Legion, a series we are watching… It is really good but very odd and couldn’t be more different than Beauty and the Beast! I really couldn’t change my view of him as a mental patient, so that was a bit funny!
The biggest thing I missed was – minor spoiler alert for immense fans – skip to next paragraph – the song Beauty and the Beast (Tale As Old As Time). They did it, but for me (superfan) the best part is that song (as well as Be Our Guest and Something There) and it just didn’t have the same emotional resonance, especially where the camera pans up through the chandelier at “as the sun will rise”, which is the bit where I usually gasp and feel emotional.
In general, I think the entire film had too many fillers in the form of back stories and justifications, when really it’s based on a cartoon that works perfectly well without them. And that cartoon was a very good cartoon which was almost perfect so didn’t really need improving on. Also I may have been distracted by babies screaming!
After that excitement, we had to go for my favourite meal of the day… breakfast! I can eat breakfast at any time of day! I actually think maternity leave should be renamed breakfast leave…
This year, our rainbow baby is here.
Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day at the weekend. It will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother.
I still equate Mother’s Day with my mum, the only mother I’ve ever known (since I was adopted at a few days old). Every other year I’ve just been me – a person with no biological relatives. This year, I have my first biological relative in B. I have a child! I’m a mother. It still feels surreal.
I’m sort of amazed by motherhood, in that I never really saw myself as the maternal type. I knew I wanted a kid, but I expected this first part to be the tiresome and boring part – before the baby turns into a toddler who can express himself. But here’s the thing – B can express himself just fine! And there must be some sort of hormones, or biology, that makes you love your own child.
I’ve spent years primarily being defined by my work. After over a decade of infertility I never defined myself by the typical female traits. Instead I was always about achieving stuff in a mainly male world. I was the female of colour in a white guy’s world and I ploughed my own furrow.
And now I’m “one of the mums”. And to my surprise, I don’t hate it. I relish it. I find it all the more precious because I know I have less time than the others. Most women in the UK take a year off when they have a baby. More than a year because they accrue holiday when they’re on maternity leave. I could take a year – I’m entitled to it – but because I started my job pregnant, I am unpaid by my company for all the time I’m off. And I can’t really afford more than the four months I guesstimated we could do without my salary.
Mum life is fun. And it’s even easier because T is off at the same time as me. Although we realised that a lot of stuff is geared just towards mums and babies and not dads. On the one hand I think that’s unfair, but on the other – I’m only just seeing how there’s a biological imperative and it makes sense for the mother to be the primary caregiver.
I knew it intellectually but I never really knew it. B knows I am his mother. He looks for me, and he’s comforted pretty much only by me. He likes T, but after a while he will look for me. And I’m the only one who can feed him. That’s such a big thing I hadn’t really fully understood. I see with B that instinctively he searches for me and wants to be with me.
It’s weird to think that I was once his age and that even before I was the age he is now (just two months old!) I was taken from my first mother and given to a new one. Because I see now how B knows me, knows my smell, is comforted by me. Quite aside from looking like me. He knows me from being inside me for nine months. It’s a real big thing to think that happened to me at such a young age, a fraction of the age B is now. I wonder what that must have felt like to me as a baby.
The funny thing is, I have almost a deeper relationship with my parents now because of B. They want to see him every week. We bond over our shared love of him. They don’t love him any less than their biological grandchildren – they are super proud grandparents of all of them. And I feel like we’ve had deeper, more critical conversations lately, especially about adoption. The fact they’re able to do that and to listen to my musings without getting defensive has been really a bonding experience for us.
Having my own biological child has thrown up all these thoughts and feelings. I’ve had time to think and I’ve had time to bed into the idea of having a biological relative. It’s still so new and yet he feels like he’s always been here. It’s so huge in one way and so little, quotidian in another. In one way I feel like I’m still just me and in the other, I feel like everything has changed.
I’m still active on adoption groups and lately a lot of adoptees I know have found their birth parents and families. It makes me wonder about looking for mine. I’ve thought about it a lot. But also I’ve seen how it doesn’t seem to make them happy. It seems to make them sad a lot of the time and yet they feel compelled to search.
For me, I don’t feel compelled to search. I wonder if I should feel it and there’s something wrong with me that I don’t. I wonder if I found my birth family whether I’d recognise myself in them. I’ve seen pictures of adoptees and the family resemblance and I wonder about that. Maybe B is enough for me. I feel like my birth mother would be like me – accepting of life, not really looking back. Not expecting me to go back. I don’t want to drag up difficult feelings because I don’t want to ruin the happiness I have now. And I hope she’s happy and I don’t want to ruin that either.
T is also adopted and I wonder how much his experience has shaped mine. He found his birth mother a long time ago. They’ve only met a couple of times. It’s like they just needed to do it and then go back to their lives. Since B was born, we were supposed to see her and it seemed really difficult to arrange it. Lots of tangled communication. Then she cancelled.
I wonder if she’s cancelling on purpose because it’s too much or whether the excuse she said is true. I feel slightly defensive and miffed on his behalf and on B’s behalf because I don’t understand why someone’s biological mother and grandmother doesn’t seem to want to see them. Maybe it’s too much emotionally.
Part of me feels like she’s not entitled to see B because she’s not his “real” grandmother, as she hasn’t been an involved mother to T. But that’s just me being defensive for him. I guess I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to see this beautiful man she made. I think maybe a lot of adoptees have complex and angry feelings towards birth parents and we can’t know the circumstances.
I feel compassion towards mine but it’s easy because they’re abstract and not real right now. If they were in this country and easily accessible I would feel mad if they didn’t make the effort to see me. And I kind of think feelings like that are why I have never searched. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of hope and disappointment. I’m fine and happy with life as it is. I kind of can’t believe how it’s worked out lately, how I have these three amazing guys I live with (if you count the dog as a guy!) and why would I want to change that, to drag up difficult feelings? Maybe that makes me a wuss.
So those are the thoughts that have been at the back of my head. At the front of my head have been the happy thoughts. The “I can’t believe that title now belongs to me” thoughts. The thought of my first Mother’s Day. On Saturday we are seeing T’s parents. And on Sunday (Mother’s Day) we are going round to my parents’ house with B and having a double.
Mother’s Day still feels like it belongs to my mother, because I’ve had thirty-odd years of celebrating it as an honour for her. This year my dad is taking us all to a restaurant for lunch for my first Mother’s Day, so it’s about me too. And it’s about T’s mum, my mother in law, and her first grandchild. And it’s our time to think of our first mums who gave birth to us all those years ago. And I think of the mothers without babies too. The unacknowledged mothers. They matter too.
As a new mum, I know I’m not special – hundred and thousands of women do it every day. And yet this year I have joined that circle of life, of women who have given life, our ancestors and the women to come down the line. I imagine I’ve joined that lineup of women, a line I never thought I’d join – through not inconsiderable effort and medical intervention – and I feel significant and insignificant at the same time.
I am me. The child of two mothers, a shadow mother and an everyday mother. The partner of a wonderful, kind, funny man. The flatmate of a brilliant dog. The mother of baby B.
Life is good.
It’s been eight weeks since our little B was born and it feels like we are slowly settling into our own way of being a family. It’s a weird dichotomy… In one way, time is going by slowly and dreamily as the days merge into one another, unbroken by the routine of going to work and office life. In another, time is flying past at the speed of light. It seems like only yesterday B was a tiny newborn nestled on my chest and now he’s a big hulking boy – or at least it seems to me. 8 weeks! How life has changed, and yet it feels so natural it’s like he was always meant to come and slot into family life.
Of course we were a family before B. And I’m not so far out of infertility-land that I have forgotten that we were whole before then, that we had a great life and we were going to have a good Plan B. (Ironic that I call him B!) I am so happy this happened and still can’t quite believe our luck – I thank my lucky stars every day I wake up to see his sweet chubby little face.
One of the things I’ve been hugely conscious of is to make sure Dog still feels loved and cherished. After all, he’s my first baby. He definitely has less attention from me, but more from T, and we are keeping up his schedule of walks so hopefully it will all even out. I always make sure to give him special cuddles when B is off me, which isn’t very often but I hope he understands. Dogs are pretty amazing like that.
The big news is that T started his Shared Parental Leave. This is a process in the UK where the mother can give up some of her maternity leave and the father or other parent can take it instead. So we are both off work together for around three months. It’s pretty amazing and we are becoming a proper team. T has been great around the house as I am usually hooked up to a baby, being a milk machine. But we’ve gotten into a bit of a routine.
The first day T was off work we went out to a local village for a celebratory breakfast. I love breakfast. The most important meal of the day! Only I tend to have it in the afternoon! I had French toast with bacon and maple syrup and T had egg and bacon muffins. We went shopping with B and I got some more nursing tops because, well, I seem to spend my entire life nursing.
On that front, breastfeeding is going astoundingly well. I’m amazed because I figured it would be awful and was all prepared to give formula but it turns out if there’s one thing that comes naturally to me, it’s breastfeeding. I am massively grateful as I know a bunch of mums having difficulty and I know it makes for a lot of stress. B is piling on the pounds being exclusively breastfed – we joke it’s the only time in your life that people give you such praise for putting on weight!
I’ve been expressing off and on and banking some breast milk in the freezer. I went to a breastfeeding clinic to understand how to introduce it as I’ll be going back to work in a few months and it was kind of stressing me out. Turns out that I can produce a decent amount of milk per session which is a relief. Also apparently it’s easier to do it when you’re also feeding the baby so that’s what I’ve been doing. Then when I’m back at work I will have to pump a few times during the work day. I was worried about how often to do that etc but I think I’ve worked it out. I invested in a double pump at the baby show because I was worried about how I would do it within time constraints at work with a single. The things you don’t know about before they happen! It had never occurred to me to get a double pump.
We went to The Baby Show and it was so much more fun once you have a baby! I kind of thought it’d be more about the anticipation whilst pregnant but I really didn’t have a clue back then (hence the single pump I bought last time round). We got some little useful things for B like a little cup shaped like a whale to use to wash his hair. We had been using a ceramic coffee mug! We are those kind of haphazard parents! We also splashed out and got him a rocker which automatically rocks him. (The Joie Serina 2 in 1 arrows.) It’s amazing! He seems to quite like it!
Our days are kind of peaceful and kind of full. I’m sort of embarrassed to say that B has a fuller social life than I ever had! We tend to get up slowly – although he wakes during the night, we can usually lie in a while. I usually allow two hours to get up if we are going anywhere. T tends to take Dog out and I feed B. Then we get up and either see visitors or go out. My folks come by once a week and I see my small group of mums from NCT (antenatal class) maybe once a week. We go to Baby Sensory once a week too. And maybe go shopping a few times a week. It all adds up.
Plenty of food opportunities!
Pancake day we went to the local “bumps and babies” meet and I had huevos rancheros pancake. Omg! So good!
I’m really not bored in the least. What I found seems to help not to be bored or stir crazy is to make sure we go out every day. Even if it’s just to the local shop to get something for dinner or to Starbucks for a hot chocolate. But usually I don’t have to resort to trying to fill time because of appointments and social engagements and all. Of course it can get a bit tiring if he’s going through a crying spell but I tell myself it’s probably a growth spurt and it won’t last forever. On the whole he is a pretty easy baby who can usually be calmed by a cuddle or milk. Or a good burp! Takes after his father!
Everyone seems so happy for us! It’s really nice. We’ve had various visitors wanting to come and see him so I’ve frequented the local coffee shop a lot. They know me as the girl who has two hot chocolates with all the trimmings! (Whipped cream and marshmallows!) They also do a fine line in bacon baps! (Bacon rolls.) My parents treat me to breakfast every time they come round so it really could be worse! Our flat is really a bit on the small side for entertaining and it’s good to get out.
The funny thing is that I feel like I have lost a fair amount of baby weight. I’ve been congratulated on this by various people but I really haven’t tried to lose it. As you can see by the multiple hot chocolates with whipped cream and marshmallows! I think breastfeeding just makes me super greedy. I still have weight to lose but I refuse to stress about it. My boobs are out of control as I’m breastfeeding and my stomach is a bit of a disaster zone post c section so I think there will be some gym work required in the long run. Right now I’m doing a decent amount of walking and babywearing which possibly helps.
Another weird side effect post pregnancy is I got a weird sense of vertigo(?) for a while. It meant that when the washing machine was on spin and the floor would shake a bit that I would feel really queasy and anxious like the floor might give way. We are right at the top of the building. I started worrying the floor could collapse which was super irrational. It was so odd. I’ve never had vertigo before but I assume that’s what it is.
I also got worried about Dog being trapped in the house in case of fire and so I ordered these emergency pet cards / key rings which tell people in case you have an accident that there’s a pet at home who needs looking after. I don’t know if those anxieties were post partum effects. Generally I’m not an anxious person (I know, my pregnancy probably notwithstanding!) so it was really weird. But it’s sort of passed / calmed down over the past few weeks.
I do think I think of bad things that might happen to people I love more than I did before I was pregnant. But they’re not out of control anxieties or anything and I don’t dwell on them – I’ve just noticed I feel differently and maybe it’s a side effect of pregnancy/birth. For example I feel really terrible if I ever hear of bad things happening to kids, particularly little boys. I think someone said that having a child is like having your heart placed outside your body. It does feel like I’ve turned into a pile of mush!
Anyway I think the reason I don’t stress so much about the body image thing is that my body had never worked properly before. And now I have B and I can’t quite believe it. So I refuse to feel sad or worried about the body that gave me my child. Even if it’s a bit of a wreck right now! I had such body image issues before pregnancy and now I’m heavier than I’ve ever been and I just don’t care – this body is the one that’s feeding my child. It seems sort of miraculous. There is plenty of time later to slim down!
Sometimes I feel too happy when everyone else I know with a baby seems to find it hard or tedious. I guess maybe because they didn’t struggle to get pregnant. (Also luck on the breastfeeding front.) I keep wondering about post partum depression and whether I could see the signs if I had it. Thankfully doesn’t seem to be any sign of it right now.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows of course! T and I have discussed a lot about feelings. I’ve definitely been more grouchy and snappy at him, which isn’t ideal. He’s taking it in good grace. We definitely have had small arguments more than usual but we make them up pretty quickly. I think the thing is that regardless of your feelings on gender roles, there are limitations to breaking out of it – I’m the feeder which leaves me very little time to do anything else. And B isn’t dependent on T in the same way, which can lead to tensions. Either way, we are coping okay and making our feelings known! I think post partum hormones are definitely playing havoc!
I’ve barely thought about work. Which is nice but also weird when it defined me for so long. I mildly hate myself for saying this but I can see why mothers get consumed with being mothers and stop caring about the other stuff. I can see now why you usually get a year off for maternity leave (in the UK). I seem to have slipped into this new identity and put the old one on the shelf and I don’t even feel tempted to pick it up before time.
I had to reconnect this week as there’s a consultation at work. Hopefully my job is not in danger but I had to have a call with my boss and HR even though I’m on maternity leave because the role I do is changing. (The overall role not my job specifically.) It was actually fun to speak with them and reminded me I really like my boss and my job. So at least didn’t make me feel bad about having something to go back to. My boss was really nice and said take all the time you need… I can’t afford to stay off unpaid though! I am getting the maternity allowance from the government but it is a lot less than my salary and just about covers my Starbucks habit! But at least aside from the hassle of pumping and the cost of nursery it will hopefully be nice when I go back.
In a way, being off work actually gives me more time to spend connecting with friends. A really nice thing happened a few days ago. I got an email from a very old childhood friend who I haven’t been in touch with for years. She now lives in America. It was so nice to hear from her! I’d gotten in touch with her years ago via her brother on LinkedIn and we had spoken via email really briefly but didn’t keep it up.
She said she’d been thinking of me a lot lately because her kids remind her of us (my siblings and me) so that was really sweet. It’s funny as I always thought of her and would periodically search for her on Facebook, but she’s not on Facebook. It was so nice to reconnect and see photos of her and her family – she’s in an interracial relationship as well (married to a white guy) so it just felt nice to see that we have something in common – and be able to send my own family photos.
I’ve also spent longer talking on the phone to people who don’t live locally like my best friend who lives overseas. Or my friend from uni in the US who called me the other night. It’s cool to be able to catch up! I think when I’m at work I never take the time to speak on the phone with people very much any more. It’s nice to connect. My folks want to FaceTime with B all the time!
Our so called “splinter group” (a few of us from the NCT – antenatal class, not everyone) meet up once a week and also talk a fair amount on whatsapp. It’s good to have others who are sharing the experience especially when you have a question along the lines of, “Is this weird?”
We have joked amongst ourselves that there really should be some book or app that tells you all the stuff they never tell you about having a baby. It’s kind of nuts. Like did you know their skin peels off around day 10? (The depickling!) Is it normal for them to be cross eyed? Bow legged? Etc. Humans really are a bit strange!
My sister is still pregnant! I gave her a load of my maternity clothes as she’s getting to that point of showing. We are all treading a fine line with her right now. She’s very highly strung and if you add in pregnancy after loss, it’s kind of a grenade waiting to go off! (She makes me look positively chilled and I was really stressed during pregnancy, worried about loss.)
I’m hoping now she’s coming up to halfway that she will start to relax and accept it a bit more as that’s how it was for me. I have a huge stockpile of gifts for her baby! Did I mention she’s having a girl? It means I get to shop for cute girly things too! (I’ve done a run on Mini Boden and Little White Company!) I just feel so relieved for her.
On Saturday we have a big reunion of the NCT group – including the dads – so instead of being pregnant we will all have babies. The final baby was born about a week ago. She was the one who wanted a home birth but ended up in hospital and is having some post partum problems, poor thing. I guess if we’ve learned anything from this whole thing it’s that nothing goes according to plan. But… It’s all worth it once they are here.
I organised a baby first aid course for before the reunion. (I’ve somehow turned into the organiser of the group. I guess I need to get my kicks somewhere!) It turns out everyone wanted to do it so we can get a private class just for our group. I figured it’s worth finding out especially given the situation that happened with my mother in law at my baby shower! I had that weird reaction when I was pregnant and cried when I thought about having to give B CPR! Assuming this won’t happen again!
For the reunion I have a plan to make some cupcakes. I was going to do something more ambitious but realised that was a bit nuts to try and do if you have a baby. So I’m just going to go with swirls but I got some toppers printed with photos of each baby on, so hopefully they’ll go down well. It’s funny seeing the photos of all the babies when they were first born. B is almost two months old and much bigger! I wonder how the parents will feel eating a pic of their baby?!
The final thing for this week is that the wrap I ordered arrived. I completely love it! I started using it the day it arrived and it was awesome. I thought it might be really difficult to tie but it was fine and I managed it first time! It obviously takes longer than a sling that you can just plonk them into, but the fit is much better and it spreads the weight across both shoulders which helps as B is a little chubber!
First attempt bathroom mirror selfie!
It means we can do more of the attachment parenting type stuff (whatever that is… I interpret it to mean he’s always attached which he pretty much is) plus on a purely shallow note I love the pattern – stars. B now has a whole selection of stuff with stars on and most of his clothes are stripey so I guess that covers our Americophile predilections! (Although we will be steering clear of Trump land for a bit!)
Stuff with stars on has become our unofficial motif. Aside from the wrap (and the sling before then) he has clothes with stars on and I managed to get a good deal at the baby show on a blanket I had been wanting for ages from MORI which is covered in stars. It will be fab for sitting out on the grass in summer. (Hit me up if you are in the UK and want a referral code for £10 off!) And I got a lovely light scarf that I can use as a nursing cover if I need to, from The White Company. I think it just cheers me up to have all this starry stuff!
And it reminds me of the cake I made when recovering from the loss of our first baby… Starry Night (*Dr Who edition). The sadness I had whilst making this cake in direct contrast to the happiness I feel now when I think of how things worked out since. What a difference a year makes.
We already tell B he was 4.5 years in the making. (And that’s just my current relationship not counting the 10+ years of fertility problems before then.) Out of 19 eggs retrieved and around 11 fertilised over two cycles, he was the only one who made it. He’s amazing. A miracle.
He is my little star!